Street Photography: Travelling cheap and keeping sane

Shooting street photography all day every day is pretty much heaven for me. Sure I have leg cramps and blisters, but as the hipsters would say - “it’s all for the art, man!”. For many, taking the step to leave the mundane and do something you are passionate about is rather daunting. The biggest hurdles are money and your mind. You have to be savvy with what you have in the bank and do all you can to keep mentally strong. Here are some steps I have taken to ensure I am travelling cheap and keeping sane.

Accommodation

During my travel, I have been using a combination of hostels and Airbnb.

Hostels are great to get a cheap sleep and also meet people. Shooting street photography can be lonely at times, and if you’re truly in the zone it can be hard to fully interact with people. After a long day shooting, it can be nice to chill in the common room and have a good conversation. The plus side is, they are super cheap. I have been spending between £13-£15 per night, much cheaper than a private room in a hotel.

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Airbnb is a great option also, as you get to stay with someone who is local to the city you are in. The advantage of this is that they will have information that the companies would not want to tell tourists. For example, when in Valencia a Paella averaged £12-£18. However, my Airbnb host told me about a lovely little street food set up that provided huge portions for only £3.50 - a big money saver! I was able to stay in this lovely place - Airbnb digs - for only £11 (prices may vary depending on dates).

Food

When you get into these cool new cities, it can be tempting to go and dine at at all the wonderful restaurants that are being thrust into your face. This is where you need to show some self-restraint, and think about your budget above anything else. I have been surviving off fruits for breakfast, tortilla for lunch and then a small treat like chicken for dinner. The below lunch cost me £1.80 and gave me enough energy to get back out and shooting!

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Also, many of the Airbnbs and hostels have access to a kitchen - so you can bulk cook for a few days and have more time to be creative and more money in your wallet.

Travel

Whenever I plan to travel to a different country, my first point of planning is to use Skyscanner. Now, if you are like me and happy to go anywhere, here is a little step I take to ensure I get cheap flights.

In the search section, I type in: London - Everywhere. Skyscanner then generates a list of flights, starting with the lowest priced. I then pick one of the top 3, and plan my trip from there. I have had flights as low as £10!!

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Whilst in Spain, for inland travel I have been using BlaBlaCar. BlaBlaCar, is a great website that brings together people doing a certain trip. Essentially you are car sharing with a group of people, all contributing to the overall cost. I spent £14 on a trip from Valencia to Barcelona. In comparison, the coach cost £25, and the train £32.

 Valencia 

Valencia 

Seize opportunities

It is amazing what little things can come up whilst travelling. Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time in order to get some savers under your belt. Below are some money savers that happened to me.

  • Another guest leaving two day early at a hostel. The guest overbooked by two days and the hostal would not refund him. I offered him 50% of what he paid. He got some money back and I got some cheap rates.

  • Traveller going home early. A traveller bought a 7 day travel pass, but had to go home early. I again offered a discounted price for what he paid, but he was more than happy to give it to me for free.

  • Free books. Whilst travelling, it is imperative you keep your mind healthy and sane. Reading is a wonderful way to pass time and learn. Rather than go splurge £10 on a fancy new hard back - you will come across many people who are more than pleased to pass on a great read they have had.

  • Communal dinners. In hostals you will find people will cook large meals, often having more than their stomach can take. It is not uncommon for someone to offer you to sit with them and enjoy their excess. You get a good meal and some nice conversation!

I would note, however, whilst these are great ways to save money, it can’t all be take take take. When you can, keep the positive vibes going and share or give away the things you no longer need.

 Bilbao

Bilbao

Keep yourself healthy and happy, travelling is a dream but it can be tough and stressful. Your objective is to keep funds low, keep your mind stimulated and ensure you get as much time as possible shooting the streets you have chosen to explore

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Spain: In photos

I have spent the last 7 days shooting street photography across 3 different towns and cities in Spain. I have visited: Bilbao, Zaragoza and Valencia. Rather than write an overview of my experience so far, for once I am going to let the images do the talking.

Below are some highlights...

Bilbao

 Taken outside  Museo Guggenheim Bilbao
 Love becomes so much more once two lovers become a family.

Love becomes so much more once two lovers become a family.

 She is street fashion and she knows it

She is street fashion and she knows it

Zaragoza 

 RED

RED

 Love

Love

 Youth

Youth

Valencia

 A lesson from wisdom

A lesson from wisdom

 Cinema Style

Cinema Style

 A man works outside  Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia

A man works outside Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia

****

Next stop, Barcelona!

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What can we learn about life by practicing street photography?

Street photography is a documentation of human life. It captures the human way of thinking and the manner in which we behave. The streets are full of different personalities and attitudes, and it is the job of the street photographer to try and represent that as true to life as possible within their work. From my personal experience of shooting street photography, it opens up my mind and for me, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from practicing the craft.

I am not talking about lessons in street photography, but rather lessons in life. By being observant of my subject, taking in their behaviours and mannerisms, and then reflecting on the image, I have been able to find messages that have been beneficial to my own personal development.

Take a look at this image...

SlowDown.jpg

Just two images of an old dude reading the paper, right?

Wrong.

These images were taken 45 minutes apart. That’s right, for at least 45 minutes this gentleman was stood on the same spot in the middle of the street reading the paper.

This got me thinking about how impatient my own generation is. We are always “on the go”. We demonstrate restlessness in the way we conduct ourselves in the real world, and of course in the manner in which we behave online.

Sure, this man may no longer have a job to go to, but he is still managing his time in a relaxed and content manner. He does not need life to be 100 mph, he can just stand in the same spot and read his paper. Whereas I feel with myself and those who grew up around me (more so those even younger) there is a constant anxiety of “what next?”.

What both these images taught me, was that it is okay to slow down. You can be happy in your own skin without constantly jumping from one thing to another. So, whenever I feel the urge to go task crazy or have 200 browser tabs open, I will think of this old man, enjoying his life, reading his paper.

Then there is this image...

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Hmm tasty chicken, I must have been hungry when I took the frame. Well, actually as a rule - never shoot food on an empty stomach.

Of course when I look at this image I may drool at the mouth slightly...okay, a lot.

But, I also see a journey. A gradual adaptation of something, becoming better whilst turning over time. This can also be applied to ourselves and how we improve as we grow older. We can sometimes be guilty of thinking we are the finished article, but in truth, we should always be evolving. Just as the chicken remains a chicken once cooked, we do not need to transform into someone completely different - just a better version of who we already are.

Finding your lessons

I believe there to be many reasons why, as street photographers, we choose to shoot the frames we do. Sometimes it’s purely because of aesthetics, sometimes it is show off how clever we think we are. But I also firmly believe we shoot the frames we do because they can sometimes give us answers that we are looking for in the world. Street photography for me has always been a therapeutic process and a way of understanding the philosophical aspect of life.

I encourage you to take a moment to sit with some of your images and look beyond the initial aesthetic. Thinking about where you were in life when you took the images, how was your emotional state at the time? Can it link to a certain thought or feeling you are working through? Take a moment to think, maybe you will find answers to some of the questions you have about life and yourself.

Understanding the characteristics of the people and the things around us really can help us learn more. We are lucky as street photographers, as we have already made the step of walking into the public classroom. We just need to ensure we are open to what the world has to teach us.

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